Overcoming the Drain of a Cancer Diagnosis

Juana and her family

Category: Client Story

September 23, 2020

In December 2018, Juana heard some of the most difficult words a parent can hear: her 8-year-old daughter had cancer. Maryori was diagnosed with a cancerous brain tumor and needed various rounds of testing, MRIs, and chemotherapy through Dell Children’s Blood and Cancer Center.

Her doctor immediately connected Juana and her family to Any Baby Can for case management and support coordinating medical bills, as well as counseling.

The family was scared. Maryori was weak and there was so much uncertainty. They were on the Medical Assistance Program (MAP), and since many providers do not honor the MAP card, the family’s medical bills were expensive and confusing. Juana was matched with Diana Perez, Lead Social Worker of Any Baby Can’s Candlelighters program which provides guidance to families with children who have special healthcare needs, specifically cancer.

They were able to quickly meet and go through all the bills the family had received, one by one. They talked about what they were for and how much it would cost. Diana would sit with Juana and make calls about each bill.

"The family felt at ease to have someone help make sense of all of the bills, medical procedures, and insurance options. We were able to ask the right questions and decipher the confusing paperwork she received," says Diana.

Diana also helped them apply for the Children with Special Health Care Needs (CSHCN) services program through Medicaid. This gave the family better medical coverage, and insurance that Maryori could use until she turns 21. It is more than just better access to services, however; CSHCN gave the family stability and relief that a cancer diagnosis didn’t have to overwhelm the family financially.

When a child is diagnosed with cancer, the whole family struggles. Juana and her husband were able to find comfort in connecting with other families who have children with special healthcare needs. They also participated in Any Baby Can’s counseling services to get emotional support and coping strategies.

"Over the last couple of years, I’ve noticed a change in the conversation. The focus shifted from 'This is happening with my child and we don’t know what to do,' to 'We're going to be OK,'" says Diana.

The Coronavirus pandemic has made everything more difficult, however. They were affected by shelter-in-place orders and Juana’s husband was out of work for a while. Any Baby Can was able to provide emergency respite funds to assist with rent and groceries.

Diana and Juana still talk over the phone on a regular basis. She provides a steady presence and support during these challenging times.

"Any Baby Can has been an incredible help to us. Diana has been with our family at every step and I am grateful for the time and support she has given us," says Juana.

Things are improving. Maryori had an MRI last month that yielded good results. And when Juana received a recent bill, she felt confident enough to make a phone call herself to update insurance information.

With new skills and confidence, Juana is successfully managing a long-term plan for her daughter’s diagnosis.


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